Posted: August 04, 2023

86,100 Pounds of Marine Debris Removed from the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument

Small boat operators and freedivers pull up ghost nets from water.
During 9 days of diving operations at Kamokuokamohoaliʻi, PMDP Hawaii removed 57,240 lbs. of ghost nets from the reef. Photo: Andrew Sullivan-Haskins

A team from the Papahānaumokuākea Marine Debris Project (PMDP), a Hawaiʻi-based non-profit organization, returned to Honolulu on Wednesday, August 2, 2023, aboard the 185-ft ship M/V Imua with 86,100 pounds of marine debris removed from shallow coral reefs and shorelines of the islands and atolls within Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument.

Using their team of highly-skilled freedivers and small boat operators, PMDP conducted 20 days of cleanups at Kamokuokamohoaliʻi (Maro Reef), Kamole (Laysan Island), and Kapou (Lisianski Island), focusing on carefully removing ghost nets from the shallow coral reef environments. These ghost nets pose entanglement threats to protected endemic wildlife and suffocating negative impacts to the living coral reef habitats. The team also disentangled and saved a Hawaiian green sea turtle from a net, as well as several protected seabirds.

“If PMDP isn’t there to clean up Papahānaumokuākea, no one is”, says PMDP Executive Director James Morioka. “We happened to be in the right place at the right time to save that turtle. You can only imagine how many more lost animals there would be if PMDP wasn’t preemptively cleaning up these reefs”.

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